Zellweger, 47, said she had chosen to respond to an October 2014 tabloid story that claimed she had undergone surgery to alter her eyes, because being in the public eye sometimes means “resigning to humiliation” and other times means “understanding when silence perpetuates a bigger problem”.
In a personal essay penned for The Huffington Post, she wrote: “I must make some claim on the truths of my life, and because witnessing the transmutation of tabloid fodder from speculation to truth is deeply troubling.
“The ‘eye surgery’ tabloid story itself did not matter, but it became the catalyst for my inclusion in subsequent legitimate news stories about self-acceptance and women succumbing to social pressure to look and age a certain way.”
Zellweger, who recently returned to the big screen in Bridget Jones’s Baby, said she had not altered her face or had surgery, adding: “Not that it’s anyone’s business”.
The actress follows in the footsteps of Jennifer Aniston, who last month wrote an article in The Huffington Post slamming celebrity journalism and persistent stories reporting that she was pregnant.
Zellweger said she was concerned that the story about her alleged surgery gained traction and had become “a public conversation” despite not being true.
She asked: “What if immaterial tabloid stories, judgments and misconceptions remained confined to the candy jar of low-brow entertainment and were replaced in mainstream media by far more important, necessary conversations?”
The fixation on rumours about plastic surgery shows how far a woman’s worth is measured by her appearance, Zellweger argued.
She wrote: “The double standard used to diminish our contributions remains, and is perpetuated by the negative conversation which enters our consciousness every day as snark entertainment.
“Too skinny, too fat, showing age, better as a brunette, cellulite thighs, facelift scandal, going bald, fat belly or bump? Ugly shoes, ugly feet, ugly smile, ugly hands, ugly dress, ugly laugh.
“Headline material which emphasises the implied variables meant to determine a person’s worth, and serve as parameters around a very narrow suggested margin within which every one of us must exist in order to be considered socially acceptable and professionally valuable, and to avoid painful ridicule.”